Sun, February 18, 2018
Add to Calendar
Zoe Francis/jim Mullen Quartet: Blossom Time at Colchester Arts Centre Jazz Club
Zoe Francis started singing jazz while living and working in New York, and soon became a regular fixture on the scene as she worked at honing her craft. She would often sit in with the late Harry Whitaker and his trio, as well as performing with many other musicians, including Harry Allen, Warren Vache, Joe Cohn and Chris Flory.
Zoe's first album 'Looking for a Boy', was released to significant acclaim, while her second, 'The Very Thought of You', received similar plaudits. Both discs provide a great showcase for her beautiful voice as well as her exquisite taste in the choice of material.
'Blossom Time', Zoe's latest release, is a selection of songs recorded and performed by the unique American singer/pianist Blossom Dearie, so expect to hear compositions by great lyricists such as Cy Coleman, Comden and Green, Dave Frishberg and Bob Dorough, whose at times quirky tunes Blossom sang throughout her long, illustrious career.
A classic jazz star in the making, Zoe has very wisely employed (and subsequently married!) the iconic guitarist Jim Mullen, a musician who's been on the scene for more than four decades and is regarded by most up-and-coming young jazz guitarists as the high priest of the instrument.
Jim's stints with Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, Vinegar Joe, Kokomo and the Average White Band in the 60s and 70s, were followed by his long-time partnership with the late Dick Morrissey - first in Up, then with the legendary Morrissey-Mullen band (who appeared at the club twice back in the day) and spearheaded the 70s British jazz-fusion movement.
Since Morrissey-Mullen's demise in the late 80s, as well as fronting his own groups such as the Organ Trio, Jim has also worked with many other UK artists (including multi award-winning vocalist Claire Martin) and has always been first-choice accompanist when American artists visit the UK - notably Mose Allison, Jimmy Smith, Gene Harris and Terry Callier.
What makes Jim's guitar playing so attractive is that unique, soft-edged sound, as - like the late Wes Montgomery - he plays with his thumb, rather than a plectrum. And he can also turn any tune this way and that to reveal unexpected beauties.
Completing the line-up are two stalwarts of the UK jazz scene: Barry Green (Piano) and Mick Hutton (Double Bass), who between them have worked with artists such as Bill Bruford, Brigitte Beraha, Peter Erskine, Ingrid Laubrock, John Scofield, Tommy Smith, John Taylor, Stan Tracey and Kenny Wheeler.
“Something a bit special is going on when this artist takes the stage . . . a classy, poised singer who respects her material enough to deliver it straight and true.” - London Jazz News
"Mullen has for long struck this listener as being capable of creating excitement out of the most commonplace, even mundane melody." - Rob Adams
"Zoe Francis is a singer to listen out for. She communicates a love and understanding of classic American song with the lightest of touches. A classy set.” - The Guardian
"With his unique, mellow guitar sound and his ability to spin a seemingly effortless stream of melody, he never fails to keep your ears fully occupied. " - The Guardian
"There is a quality in Zoe Francis’s work that suggests something of the classic singers of the past, yet there is no obvious attempt to be anyone but herself, with an appealing freshness as well as technical command that make her shows well worth seeking out. . . .”, wrote London Jazz News when reviewing one of this impressive vocalist's concerts.
Colchester Arts Centre Jazz Club, Colchester Arts Centre, Church Street